‘Make in India’ Software Defined Radio: ‘Mother’ of all solutions for tactical communications of armed forces – Defence News

The Defense Acquisition Council’s (DAC) recent approval to purchase Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology is the “mother” of all solutions for the Armed Forces’ desired tactical communications needs.

The indigenous SDR, which needs to be properly machined to realize its potential, is indigenously designed/developed through a joint effort of Weapons Electronics System Engineering Establishment (WESEE)/Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and BEL (Bengaluru). In this case, BEL is the manufacturing partner of DRDO.

The Indian Navy’s Tactical Data Link will be the immediate beneficiary of this indigenous SDR technology which is very critical as it will help achieve better transfer speeds for large volume of real-time data with reduced network latency.

This indigenous technology will be readily applicable to the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) for improved transfer rates of data, voice and video information. This will allow troops on the ground carrying hand-portable SDR versions to achieve integration with higher echelons to achieve true C4I capabilities. Also, with SDR technology, the possibility of swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating on the battlefield looks promising.

With each warship as a node generating massive real-time data related to navigation, combat information etc., the SDR solution was developed by the Indian Navy through the efforts of its premier research and development organization, WESEE.

What is Software Defined Radio (SDR)?

“Every radio system wirelessly transmits/receives signals in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum to facilitate the transfer of information. It is a very special kind of advanced radio system in which physical layer functions are defined as software functionality, ie. software code acts as the circuit board of the conventional radio and software-based filtering algorithms are used to select the frequency,” explains Milind Kulshreshtha, AI and C4I expert.

According to Kulshreshtha, “The software generates a waveform of the communication signal that is equivalent to a modulated signal, making the SDR capable of communicating across a large portion of the spectrum while supporting multiple protocols. These software algorithms can be downloaded and adapted to life hardware range. SDR is a multi-mode, multi-band and multi-function radio that only requires a software upgrade for enhancements. A traditional hardware-based radio has multi-functional limitations and can only be modified through physical changes.

Security applications

Defense Tactical communication operates on several different frequencies such as HF, V/UHF, etc. and each has its own unique protocol type to meet Battlefield requirements. Each unit/node in a tactical communication scheme is part of a secure interconnected network to communicate with each other. SDR also operates in the same ranges of the frequency spectrum, using multiple protocols. In addition, the SDR is compatible with legacy military radio systems for feature enhancement, expert AI & C4.

Currently, SDR waveform communication algorithms are developed by Indian Defense itself and this makes the SDR system very secure. Additionally, SDR research should be an ongoing effort to keep the already deployed SDR sufficiently resilient against jamming or hacking by an adversary with advanced technology.

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